Please sign in to post.

VATICAN MUSEUM

We had a very disheartening visit to the museum May 2nd. We booked a tour with Rome Walks (Spring was our guide). The group was small and the guide excellent and very knowledgable. However, we had to wait close to 3 hours (almost half of that in pouring rain) before being admitted. Then the crowds were unbelievable (packed like sardines, especially in the Sistine Chapel). The tour ended with a very quick tour of the Basilica around 5 p.m. We were so exhausted, we couldn't return to the Basilica for a better look around (possibly missing out on the best). It wasn't clear what the problem was because others have said their experience was incredible.
Can anyone elucidate the situation for us so that if we return, we could get much more enjoyment. Should we have concentrated on the Basilica instead?

Posted by
35 posts

I should mention in passing that the tour started at 10:15 a.m. ending at 5:00 p.m. making it a full-day affair.

Posted by
84 posts

I'm hoping that is a one time experience. We are in Rome the 7-10 of June, and have not yet booked our tours. Any recommendations?

Posted by
25 posts

Maureen,

I spent three months living in Rome and made two trips to the Vatican museums during that period. The first time, my guest and I went in the middle of the morning and waited in terribly cold weather for nearly two hours. Then, we rushed straight to the Sistine Chapel which was already packed. On the second trip, I decided that I would be in-line before the museums even opened. This worked great. I made my way straight to the Sistine Chapel, and was actually able to sit on one of the benches in there and admire Michelangelo's great works! I was then able to loop back around and enjoy the other parts of the museum at my leisure. Also, I would never suggest going to the Museums on the monthly free day.

Posted by
1003 posts

I was under the impression the only way to avoid the lines was to do the fax reservation for the tour with the Vatican itself. Please, someone who knows more, correct me if I am wrong. 06-6988-5100 is the fax #, there are other threads here from people who have tried it. I'm thinking about asking my Rome hotel to accept a fax for me since I can't receive faxes at home and Rome is the end of my 6-week trip.
My issue is that at over 20 euros, it's expensive considering I really only want to see the Sistine Chapel. I know it sounds ridiculous but I am considering just going over really early to see St. Peter's (opens at 7am) and instead of spending a precious day in Rome to see the Sistine, I might skip it and do the Jewish Ghetto and Trastevere or Ostia Antica instead. I'd love to see the Sistine Chapel, of course, but to wait in line all day and/or spend over 20 euros just to be squished through in 5 minutes like a sardine...not sure if it will be worth it to me :(

Posted by
705 posts

Kelly - can't speak highly enough of Angel tours - http://www.angeltoursrome.com

Maureen - I find the Bascilica the most amazing church I have every seen. Every time I go to Rome I visit it as it never fails to amaze me. I did a tour that took in the museums and the Bascilica - angel tours and it was worthwhile. Either read up on the Bascilica or do a tour as the history and stories about the past popes and the architecture is really interesting. I was lucky I didn't queue as long as you for the museums and yes it was crowded so unless you really want to do the museum again I'd just spend some time in St Peters. There is also a small chapel on the right hand side in the church which is for private prayers. I went in and the next minute I am in the middle of mass. Great experience and now I can say I have attended mass in St Peters!

Posted by
1003 posts

Helen, I've heard a lot of good things about Angel tours - only 25 Euros too, not bad! Do they actually pre-purchase the tickets for you so that you can avoid all lines getting into the museum? It's a bit unclear from their site and I figured i'd ask here since you brought it up before I email them directly. Thanks!

Posted by
241 posts

To reiterate some basics:
The info in rick's book conflicts with that on the Vatican's official website. Vatican website lists fax number for their own guided tours as 6-698-5100, whereas Rick has 6-6988-4019. Either way it seems no writer to this thread has (recently) received a reply from Vatican Museum. Beware, some 'guided tours' expect the customer to stand in line to buy a ticket, but do not tell you this up front. There seems to be more visitors to museum than facility can accomodate, and no attempt at crowd control. My friend is booked for May 18 with Rome-Museum.com and they say that they can get one in without standing in que. We will find out and report back on May 18.

Posted by
45 posts

I too was there at the Vatican that day. We had gone to the Papal Blessing and got caught in the rain then and went to lunch and came back to line up for the musuem. I have to say that was probably the thing I least enjoyed about my trip to Roma and by the time I got to the Sistine I did not even really feeling like looking around. I did St. Peter's which I enjoyed. I found that the staff was extremely rude in the Sistine Chapel(and in other places too but there was one nice gentleman that showed us a short cut with our daughter in her stoller). I did not notice any sign saying that there were no pictures to be taken and the staff was running around yelling and grabbing at people taking pictures. I was there just before it closed and it was so packed, my 11 month daughter and I were practially being trampled. I have to say I enjoyed everything else about Rome but the Vatican Museum and I would probably not go back there but would do St. Peter's.

Posted by
705 posts

Hi Debra, No they don't pre purchase the tickets but that's not the problem. From what I observed everyone has to queue to actually get into the museums. I didn't see any tour group 'jump the queue' so to speak. What Angel tours does is send you off to have a coffee or a gelati and tell you what time to rejoin the guide in the line. The poor guide stays in the queue to keep your place. Once you get in it's pretty quick to go through and get your admission tickets.

Posted by
5 posts

Here's what I did, following some tips in Rick's book, on my recent trip to Rome in April. I went to St. Peter's on Friday, went to the Basillica in the morning (nothing too crazy, 9:30 or so), and there was only a little line to get in there. Saw the church, did the dome (DO THIS!!). Quick lunch, then hit the Vatican musuem in the afternoon, ~1pm or so and there was NO LINE. You're right, there's tons to see in the museum, so don't dally and do save time for the end, which is Raphael and Michelangelo. Take Rick's tip and short-cut out of the Sistine chapel (still packed, but at least you can stand and see it) into the church at the end for another look (if you do this, see the paintings before heading on the sistine chapel trail). I did all this on my own, and it worked out great! When I go back, I'll probably buy the Rome guidebook to get more details on the art, but otherwise I'll do things similarly.

Posted by
151 posts

Our experience three years ago was very similar to other posts. We trucked through the hot stuffy Vatican Museum to get to the Chapel and then sweated more with the hordes looking at the ceiling. It was awful. I hope you find another way. We are returning to Rome this summer and will NOT be trying the museum again as I have heard the crowd issues have gotten worse.

Best of luck!

Posted by
7 posts

Hello All,

We just got back from Rome and we did the a Vatican tour with Rome-Museum.com on May 18 @ 9:30. The best part was our ability to enter as a group at the entrance, skipping an amazingly long queque on a Friday after a day the museum was closed. This was the best part (probably worth the 33 euros/per person alone). The tour itself, however, was just OK. It seemed less organized and took a while, once inside, to obtain tickets and headsets, as other more organized, more expensive, more self-contained tours zipped right by our group as we waited.

I'd recommend this if you have limited time in Rome (who doesn't?) to at least skip the morning queque and learn some interesting art history. Our friends did a Romaround tour with similar entry, but I believe better information and organization.

At any case, you should try hard to avoid the morning queque -- it's too long. And don't forget to stay left at the end to enter the Basillica without repeating security.

Posted by
241 posts

The rome-museum site mentioned above worked for our friends last friday the 18th. I recommend it. The vatican museums are very, very overbooked. Expect heat and crowds.